Mental health still a taboo in India

by Madeeha Khan

Mental Health is a disorder that is the least bothered in our nation. People think a person with a mental disorder is just insane. As the world is at a standstill because of the novel coronavirus, it has affected the mental health of every individual, especially children. With schools closed, students are experiencing anxiety, mental stress, and a lot of other issues.

In Kerala, 66 children have died by suicide since the 25th March post the nationwide lockdown. The Chief Minister of Kerala Mr Pinarayi Vijayan revealed this shocking statistic in a press meet on 9th July. He said that there is the formation of a special committee headed by Director General of Police R Sreelekha, to study the issue. The student police cadets also took an initiative to start an organization known as ‘Chiri’, to provide counselling and other services. There is a possibility that children have taken this big step of committing suicide as they were not able to handle the mental pressure they received from their family. He further added, “The lockdown may have affected the state of mind of many children and they may be more sensitive to parent’s scolding or other domestic issues. While the reasons may seem as trivial as being scolded for playing a mobile game or bunking an online class, the harsh words of parents may affect them gravely. The parents would have the best intentions for their wards, but the children need not realize this. I also suggest that parents should take a softer tone when talking to children during these times.”

Dr Ankita Mishra in a telephonic interview with Maverick Times said, “ As we are not yet open about our mental health and look at it as a taboo, is the main cause of the rising number of suicides in the country. Family plays a vital role in an individual’s life. One needs to talk to their family generally and have a conversation. It is always easier to open up to a person you know than to confront a therapist. For a person to realize that he needs the help of a psychiatrist, he needs to have the insight.” She further added, “It is important to talk a right loved one, by that I mean a person who would give them the right advice and not support them in doing something wrong, as it will be more demeaning than pulling them out of the dark.”

She also said that it is important to have an affordable and handy telephonic psychiatric consultations with a 24/7 service. “It is important for schools and parents to teach the importance of mental health and how it is okay to talk about it. The parents should focus more on a child’s mental health than pushing to get better grades. The mental health of a child is more important than grades will ever be,” she added. She also wishes to change the mindset of the ill groomed society regarding mental health being a taboo. She said that we should make going to psychiatrist a normal thing like before you get married you go to them as a couple, after a trauma or an accident or a huge business loss and even after a break-up. The more we reach out to them, the less it will be a taboo. However, repeating a fact she said that it’s always better to talk to a close one, as there might be someone asking for help masked under a smiling face.

Image Credits:- Time To Change

It is a said by the experts that just like adults, children, especially adolescents face mental health issues like stress and depression which in some cases may lead to suicide.

Urvashi Bisht, a Psychotherapist, Maulana Azad Medical College in an interview with MaverickTimes said that there has been a lot of clients that have been reported about depression and stress. The number of cases has drastically increased because of the pandemic and the major issue is the conflict with family. The children who are a part of a dysfunctional family, also students not getting access to laptops or smartphones go through the stress. They need to go to school for their overall development. “Children who are poor and go to government schools are majorly affected at the school were not only a means of academics but also food,” she added.

Ms Bisht also asserted that to cope up with this there should be conversations between the parents and the children and they should be taught about what is happening around rather than giving them false hope. Simply educating children so that they stay in reality and not tell them that it’s all fairy tales and magic beans. Because the curiosity in children from the age of 12 to 18 is high and they want to get answers, so it’s better to remove uncertainty from them.
“WHO also released a storybook for them ‘My Hero is You, How kids can fight COVID-19!’ to educate them about coronavirus,” she added.

However, in countries like New Zealand and The United States of America mental health is given a lot of importance. The federal government of the U.S. works to protect the rights of individuals with mental health disorders in a variety of settings, including the workplace, schools, and in treatment. It sets privacy standards, prohibits abuse, and fights discrimination to promote civil liberties and inclusion.

Logic an American rapper, singer, songwriter, record producer and author wrote the song ‘Everybody’ in 2017 to spread awareness about mental health. He not only gained fame but also many thank-yous from his fans saying that the song helped them. He said that he was going through anxiety issues. In an interview with Recording Academy, he said that it wasn’t always easy to talk about mental health. “I was so scared for so long to say that because society has to lead me to believe that my anxiety is stupid and shouldn’t be talked about, or that suicide, ‘Who cares, who’s weak enough to kill themselves?’ which is the most terrible, disgusting, ugly thing somebody can say” “That’s why I decided to write about these topics,” he added.

Image Credits:- Grammy Awards

However, it is important to deliver the right content to children through the mediums they follow. Rather than talking about alcohol and drugs artists should focus more on delivering good knowledge.

Therefore, mental health is integral to live a healthy balanced life. The central government needs to help people suffering from mental issues and make talking about it a necessity than a taboo. Parents need to speak to their children and make them understand how it is vital for them to know about the importance of mental health. Children are naïve and they can be moulded how you want them to be. It’s a plea to the parents to be more gentle with their children and help them with to have a healthy mind and lifestyle.

Image Credits:- Toledo Lucas County Public Library

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